Eric Blevins, Jennifer Rattanapaibooncharoen, Danielle Springer
PHS: 100 Environmental Studies Online
Dr. David Terrell
Warner Pacific College
September 23, 2009
Biological Diversity is the sum total of all organisms in an area, taking into account the diversity of species, their genes, their populations, and their communities.
As humans, we are depleting the Earth’s diversity of life. Global extinction of plants and animals is more than a thousand times higher than typical throughout life’s history on Earth because of humans.
A solution to global biodiversity is most effectively obtained through site conservation. The best approach to doing so is tackling the issues on a larger scale, since species cannot be conserved one at a time. Site-level conservation is prioritized by vulnerability and irreplaceability.
The species that are found to be in need of conservation the most are dealt with sooner than species that are not in as great of danger.
An endangered species is a population of organisms which is at risk of becoming extinct because it’s either few in numbers, or is threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters. An endangered species is usually a taxonomic species, but may be another significant group.
The White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus Virginianus) is also called the Virginia Deer. It has two subspecies that are currently endangered. The Key Deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium) and the Columbian White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus leucurus).
White-tailed Deer can be found and is listed as endangered in Florida, Oregon and Washington (along the Columbian River). The status/date they were last listed as endangered was March 11, 1967.
Bald Eagle :
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is a bird of prey found in North America. It is most recognizable as the national bird and symbol of the United States. This sea eagle has two known sub-species and forms a species pair with the White-tailed Eagle. Bald Eagles can be found near large open bodies of water with an abundant food supply and old growth trees. They are found in most of Canada, Alaska, the continental U.S., and northern Mexico.
The species was on the brink of extintion in the late 20th century in the continental U.S. while flourishing in Canada and Alaska. It now has a stable population and has officially been removed from the U.S. federal governments list of endangered species. The Bald Eagle was officially reclassified from “Endangered” to “Threatened” on July 12, 1995 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. On July 6, 1999 a proposal was initiated “To Remove the Bald Eagle in the Lower 48 States from the The List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife” and was delisted on June 28, 2007.
Green Sea Turtles :
Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia Mydas) are one of the largest and most widespread of all marine turtles. They can be found in the warm tropical waters of New England, South Africa and in the Pacific from Western Africa to the Americas.
Found only in tropical waters, these turtles rarely leave the water except for mating and nesting. Sea turtles will literally migrate hundreds of miles across the ocean to the place where they hatched to mate.
Green sea turtles are mainly threatened by predation by animals and humans. They are overharvested for their meat and eggs. Their meat is a delicacy and is highly prized. The cartilage underneath the plastron is used for making turtle soup.
Another major threat to Green Sea Turtles are fishermen who accidentally catch them in their fishing nets; hence, Green Sea Turtles are legally protected in the United States, and in United Kingdom from excess harvesting. The status/date they were listed as endangered was July 28, 1978.
Stellar Sea-lions (Eumetopias Jubatus) are also known as the Northern Sea-lions and are the largest of all seals and sea-lions. Steller sea-lions are both land and sea creatures that prefer colder waters. When not in the water, adults can mostly be found on rock shelves, ledges and sand beaches where they gather to breed and give birth.
Steller sea-lion numbers have declined because of accidental capture in fishnets, loss of food source to fishermen, and hunting. Some are shot each year by fishermen who consider them competition or pests to the fishing industry.
This species is now legally protected by the United States, and intentional killing of any Stellar sea-lion is prohibited. They are currently endangered in the following locations: Alaska, California, Canada, North Pacific Ocean, Oregon, Russia, Washington. The status/date they were listed as endangered was April 10, 1990.
Humpback Whale :
Humpback Whale (Megaptera Novaeangliae) are commonly found in coastal or shelf waters of the northern oceans in the summer for feeding. In the winter, they migrate to tropical or subtropical waters where they mate and raise their calves. They are found in the waters of the Atlantic, Arctic, Pacific Oceans, the Bering Sea and the waters surrounding Antarctica.
There are only about 6,000 Humpback Whales left in the oceans. In the early 1900s whaling was very popular; thus, resulting in the killing of over 60,000 whales. Commercial whaling has been banned since the late 1950s, and currently whaling has been minimized significantly. However, the threats today still include accidental deaths by entanglement in fishing gear or collisions with ships. This has significantly caused the Humpback Whale’s endangerment. The status/date they were listed as endangered was June 2, 1970.
Causes of Endangerment
Habitat destruction is the process in which natural habitats are rendered unable to functionally support the present species. In this process, the organisms which previously used the site are displaced or destroyed, reducing biodiversity. Habitat destruction is currently ranked as the most important cause of species extinction worldwide. It is a process of environmental change important in evolution and conservation biology.
Human activity has caused habitat destruction for the sole purpose of harvesting natural resources for industrialization and urbanization; hence, clearing habitats for is the principal cause of habitat destruction. Other important causes of habitat destruction include mining, logging, trawling, agriculture use, and urban sprawl.
Additional causes include habitat fragmentation, geological processes, climate change, invasive species, ecosystem nutrient change and human activities as mentioned.
A species that faces overexploitation is one that may become severely endangered or even extinct due to the rate in which the species is being exhausted or used.
Another form of overexploitation is the trade in animal parts. Many species continue to suffer high rates of exploitation where human demands for items like rhino horns and tiger bones are on the rise in several areas of Asia. Traditional medicines made from these animal parts create a strong market that results in endangerment.
Introduction of Exotic Species:
Exotic species are interlopers. These species are introduced into new environments by way of human activities, either intentionally or accidentally. These exotic interlopers are seen as foreign elements by the native species.
Native species are those plants and animals that are part of a specific geographic area. They have been a part of a particular biological landscape for a long period of time and are well adapted to their local environment. Native species are accustomed to the presence of other native species within the same general habitat, but do not enjoy the company of the foreign species.
Exotic species may seriously disrupt delicate ecological balances and may produce unintended yet harmful consequences. The worst of these unintended yet harmful consequences arise when exotic species put native species in jeopardy by preying on them. This can alter the natural habitat and may cause a greater competition for food.
Species have been biologically introduced to environments all over the world. The most destructive effects have occurred on islands where the introduction of exotic insects, rats, pigs, cats, and other foreign species have actually caused the endangerment and extinction of hundreds of native species. Introduction of exotic species is certainly a significant factor leading to endangerment.
Disease, pollution, and limited distribution are more factors that threaten various plant and animal species. If a species does not have the natural genetic protection against particular pathogens, an introduced disease can have severe effects on that specie.
Why Even Bother ?
Medicines have been made from plants for centuries. $150 billion in sales are generated each year from pharmaceutical products which were created by studying chemical compounds present in wild animals. Rosy periwinkle produces compounds that treat Hodgkin’s disease and a form of leukemia. In Australia, a rare species of cork (Duboisia leichhardtii) provides hyoscine which is used to treat cancer, stomach disorders and motion sickness.
Genetic diversity within crop species and their ancestors is enormously valuable. New potential food crops are waiting to be used. Sweetener that is 3000x sweeter than sugar and babassu palm, which produces more vegetable oil than any other plant are some examples. Salt-tolerant grasses and trees are available and farmers can water them with salt water. These plants also produce animal feed.
High levels of biodiversity has been found to increase the stability and resilience of communities and ecosystems.
Costa Rica was paid $1.1 million so that a pharmaceutical company called Mereck, could research organisms that can provide new drugs, foods, medicines, or other valuable products. The controversy involved is that they would be harvesting indigenous species to create commercial products without compensating the country of origin, this is called biopiracy. Mereck pharmaceutical company has solved this issue by paying Costa Rica the $1.1 million.
A direct source of income is brought by tourism. It brings jobs and income to areas that otherwise might be poverty-sticken. Costa Rica benefits from their rainforests, Australia has their Great Barrier reef, Belize has reefs, caves, and rainforests. Kenya and Tanzania have the Savanna wildlife and even the United States of America has national parks which draw in millions of visitors, domestically and from all around the world.
How You Can Help
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of you, the American public. They manage a 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System with more than 530 individual refuges, wetlands, and special management areas. They operate 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices, and 78 ecological services field stations; local offices near to you, where we work to conserve natural resources. They enforce Federal wildlife protection laws, such as the Endangered Species Act. They manage migratory birds and restore nationally significant fisheries; conserve wetlands, and help foreign governments with their conservation efforts. (U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Contact@fws.gov 2009)
Planning is necessary for attractive and productive wildlife habitat. You have both a horizontal area to work with -- the size of your lot -- as well as a vertical area that stretches from your soil to the treetops. Trees and shrubs are the backbone of any landscaping design and are important for wildlife shelter.
v Identify all existing plants, if any. Note
v Make a sketch of your yard noting all existing plants, buildings, utilities, and pathways. You may even consider removing some plants. In some cases, trees have been planted too close to buildings or have grown much large
v Add trees, shrubs, flowers, and groundcovers to your plan
v Plant a variety of trees first. Select evergreen species for year-round cover and shelter. Select fruit or nut-bearing plants for a food source.
v Select plants that flower and bear fruit at different times of the year. Some shrubs that produce berries can provide food throughout the year
v Fill in with smaller shade-tolerant understory trees and shrubs
v Wildlife is more likely to come out into the open for viewing when the boundary of the yard is designed and maintained as a retreat for animals.
Recycle, Reduce, & Reuse:
Recycling Saves Natural Resources. Our finite reserves of natural resources are being depleted rapidly, particularly with the increasing use of disposable products and packaging. It is projected that Americans will generate 218 million tons of waste by 2000, 152 million tons of that is expected to be disposed of in landfills and incinerators (California Department of Conservation 2009)
Recycling Reduces Pollution Risks. Recycling reduces environmental damage caused by mining, logging and manufacturing raw materials. Recycling reduces the risks of air and water pollution from manufacturing processes. Recycling paper cuts air pollution by about 75%. Substituting steel scrap for virgin ore reduces air emissions by 85% and water pollution by 76% (California Department of Conservation 2009).
Plant Native Plants:
Native species are those that occur in the region in which they evolved. Plants evolve over geologic time in response to physical and biotic processes characteristic of a region: the climate, soils, timing of rainfall, drought, and frost; and interactions with the other species inhabiting the local community (Department of Conservation and Recreation Natural Heritage Program 2009).
The use of native plants is on the rise across the country as more people discover their many benefits. An ever-widening selection of vigorous, nursery-propagated native plants is available from specialty growers and many larger nurseries as a result of this increased demand (Department of Conservation and Recreation Natural Heritage Program 2009).
In North America, plant species are generally described as native if they occurred here prior to European settlement. This distinction is made because of the large-scale changes that have occurred since the arrival of the European settlers.
The benefit of growing plants within the region they evolved is they are more likely to thrive under the local conditions while being less likely to invade new habitats. Native plants are well adapted to local environmental conditions, maintain or improve soil fertility, reduce erosion, and often require less fertilizer and pesticides than many alien plants (Department of Conservation and RecreationNatural Heritage Program 2009).
Join An Organization:
Atlantic Salmon Federation, The Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) is an international nonprofit organization which promotes the conservation and wise management of the Atlantic salmon and its natural habitat. The ASF has played a key role in restoring Atlantic salmon runs to the rivers of New England, eastern Canada and abroad since 1948. (Atlantic Salmon Federation 2009, www.asf.ca).
Laws to Help
Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act:
This law provides for the protection of the bald eagle (the national emblem) and the golden eagle by prohibiting, except under certain specified conditions, the taking, possession and commerce of such birds. The 1972 amendments increased penalties for violating provisions of the Act or regulations issued pursuant thereto and strengthened other enforcement measures. Rewards are provided for information leading to arrest and conviction for violation of the Act. (Digest of Federal Resource Law 2009).
Airborne Hunting Act:
This Act, Public Law 92-159, approved November 18, 1971 (85 Stat. 480) and subsequently amended by P.L. 92-502, approved October 28, 1972 (86 Stat. 905) added to the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 a new section 13 (16 U.S.C. 742j-l), which is commonly referred to as the Airborne Hunting Act or Shooting from Aircraft Act, prohibits shooting or attempting to shoot or harassing any bird, fish, or other animal from aircraft except for certain specified reasons, including protection of wildlife, livestock, and human life as authorized by a Federal or State issued license or permit. States authorized to issue permits are required to file reports with the Secretary of the Interior containing information on any permits issued. (Digest of Federal Resource Law 2009).
Endangered Species Act:
The 1973 Act implemented the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (T.I.A.S. 8249), signed by the United States on March 3, 1973, and the Convention on Nature Protection and Wildlife Preservation in the Western Hemisphere (50 Stat. 1354), signed by the United States on October 12, 1940.
Through federal action and by encouraging the establishment of state programs, the 1973 Endangered Species Act provided for the conservation of ecosystems upon which threatened and endangered species of fish, wildlife, and plants depend. (Digest of Federal Resource Law 2009)
Habitat loss presents the single greatest threat to Oregon’s biodiversity, and the extent of this threat can be approximated from species-area curves and rates of habitat loss. The spread of non-native species threatens many local species with extinction, and pushes the world's biota toward a more uniform and widely distributed sub-set of survivors. Climate change threatens to force species and ecosystems to migrate toward higher latitudes, with no guarantee of suitable habitat or access routes. These three factors are of great concern. Through action from citizens, community organizers, and the federal government, the damage can stopped and reversed.
2009 Atlantic Salmon Federation
Retrieved 22 SEPT 09
2009 California Department of Conservation
Retrieved 22 SEPT 09
2006 Department of Conservation and RecreationNatural? Heritage Program
Retrieved 22 SEPT 09
2009 Digest of Federal Resource Law http://www.fws.gov/laws/lawsdigest/resourcelaws.htm Retrieved 22 SEPT 09
Earth’s Endangered Creatures
www.earthsendangered.com Retrieved 22 SEPT 09
www.endangeredspecie.com Retrieved 22 SEPT 09
2009 U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Contact@ fws.gov
Retrieved 22 SEPT 09
W.E.S. – Endangered Species